Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vanilla Pear Apple Sauce

I love apple sauce but the standard same old same old boring cinnamon flavored apple sauce gets dull. One variation I often make and I made tonight is Vanilla Pear Apple Sauce. So easy and tasty.
You need the following or some multiple of the following
1 apple
1 pear
1/3 vanilla bean
1/3 cup water
dash of salt

Tonight I used
3 apples
3 pears
1 vanilla bean
1 cup water
a pinch of salt

Cut up the pears and apples into cubes. If you are pureeing later for a smooth sauce you do not even need to cut off the skins. If you keep the skins on the color will be darker but more fiber and healthier. I keep mine on. For a chunky sauce most people prefer the skins removed. Put into a heavy pan. I use my 3 1/2 quart Le Creuset but any heavy pan that hold in heat and moisture well will work. I have also made this in a crockpot several times.Take the vanilla bean and cut in half and then scrape out the inside seeds. Wipe your knife along one of the cut up apples or pears to make sure you get every last delicious seed into the pot. Go ahead and put the remaining pod into the pot as well if you like a smooth sauce if chuncky you may want to skip the vanilla bean pod as it will not mash well but purees great. I used to hesitate to use real vanilla beans in my cooking as at the grocery store they are about six dollars each. A friend of mine taught me that you can buy vanilla beans online for what amounts to about 50 cents each which has me much more willing to cook with the beans. If you do not want to put the pod in here put in it a jar with sugar and over time it will scent the sugar with a hint of vanilla and be great.
see those delicious seeds
Back to our sauce. Add in the water and salt to the pot. Bring the heat up until just simmering and then move to low and simmer until the fruit is beginning to fall apart (time will depend a lot on amount being made and on how low your low is and how well your pot hold heat). If doing this in a crockpot add a little extra water and just let it go all day. Remove the vanilla bean pods if you put them in and then mash with a potato masher if you like chunky sauce. Keep the pod in if you are like me puree with an immersion blender for a smooth sauce.  Chill in the fridge and have as a snack or try it on pancakes or with pork chops. If you want to store it it freezes great.
The color is much more like caramel due to the pureed vanilla bean but oh my the taste is out of this world.

Smooth Vanilla Pear Apple Sauce

No need to add sugar as the sugars in the fruit are enhanced by the vanilla and the whole thing tastes sweet and delicious.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Boat Provisioning Trick

Next week, I am going with my family on a week long trip where we are chartering a sailboat in the islands.( I promise I will show pictures) We have done this several times before and it is always a great time. I am starting to pack and as such I wanted to show you this trick I  learned over the years. So when you bareboat charter a boat you do not have a chef. Thus you either cook aboard yourself for the week or eat out every meal. My family typically cooks breakfast and lunch and goes ashore for dinner most nights. This is interesting in terms of spices. You do not want to travel with a spice rack nor do you want to buy at inflated island prices a bunch of seasoning you will use only for a meal. The solution is recycling. During the year when you use up one of those little containers that hold a bunch of different sugar sprinkles wash it out and keep it. Use a paper funnel to funnel in spices and then close again and put inside a ziploc and place in your luggage.
Now contains Pepper, Old Bay, Salt, Italian spices,  Red Pepper, and  Taco seasoning
You can see on the jar that it is still embossed with the words Holly Leaves and Red Crystals left over from some Christmas sugar sprinkles. Bonus, you can also just leave it there when you are done and not have to worry about it. You can buy prepackaged combo spice dispensers they are similar however you can not control the spice combo. What I like about this is that only those spices I expect to use are contained in the mini canister.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Handy Silicone Cast Iron Skillet Handle Covers

A few weeks ago I bought these silicone cast iron skillet handle via a promotion that Fab was having. They are only $10 +shipping. 
They have been life changing. I love my cast iron skillet and use it just about every day. Seriously if you do not have one you should get one. But anyway onto the subject of the silicone handle covers. They come in a two pack blue and green although I have just permanently put the blue one of my skillet and have not yet used the green. Instead of always having to awkwardly grabbing an oven mitt you can grab directly on the handle and even leave the handle on while cooking. This makes it so much easier to make really anything and even to clean the skillet. 

Total life changer. I saw via  that Fab was having another special that you get 10 dollars off via this link  which means that you can go follow the link and get these just for the price of shipping. Neither Fab nor dealnews has a clue who I am. I just like these handles and thought you might too. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Websites I love

We all have our favorite websites and blogs and I for one am always looking for more. In case you are wondering these are the ones that are tops on my to read list.

APS Stern scoop- Rare but great gear reviews.
gCaptain - all the maritime news
Sailing Anarchy - Sailing news with a hint of snark
Spinsheet - Everything that is anything in the world of Chesapeake Bay sailing

Bakerella- Cakepops and other cute food
CakeWrecks- A reminder that no matter how bad the dessert turned out it could be worse
Smitten Kitchen- A very pretty food blog with delicious inspiration
Sweetopia- She makes the most impressive cookies ever
The Kitchn- A major food website recipes products everything.
Tide and Thyme- An eastern shore of MD food blog with great ideas

Friday, February 22, 2013

Clementine curd

Everyone knows and loves lemon  curd but I think most people do not realize you can make curd with almost any citrus fruit. Clementines are one of my favorite citrus fruits and make a delicious curd.
1/3 cup sugar
4 Clementines
1/2 stick butter
The cast
1 Set a saucepan of with about 1-2 inches water to simmer.
2 Cut the butter into small pieces.
3 Zest the clementines into a metal bowl. Add the juice of the four clementines, 1/3 cup sugar, and the three eggs together. Mix briefly and then put the metal bowl over the pan of simmering water.
4 Stir continuously for about ten minutes. It will slowly begin to thicken. Keep stirring until thick as needed about the texture of a pudding.
5 Remove from heat and immediately stir in butter pieces  Now strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the zest and to ensure perfectly smooth texture.
6 Allow to cool and store either in a bowl with a piece of saran wrap on top of curd to prevent a skin or inside a ziploc bag with all the air pushed out. It is good in the fridge for one week or frozen for a month.
7. Serve with scones or pound cake or chocolate cake. You will find yourself looking for an excuse to serve the  clementine curd. I hearby give you permission to eat it by the spoonfuls.
Delicious Clementine Curd on a scone.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Boats and Presidents

It is Presidents day weekend. Since this is a sailing and food blog I want to mention the boats that our presidents are famous for.
George Washington
He is most famous for crossing the icy Delaware river on Christmas night 1776. This raid was a bold move of the revolutionary war. The boats were a mishmash cobbled together with the assistance of the Pennsylvania navy however the majority of boats were either ferry boats or Durham boats (flat bottomed with keels steered with sweeps primarily used at the local iron works)
Washington Crossing the Delaware by Leutze
Thomas Jefferson
USS Constelation
Urged and then started the US Navy. He is responsible for the first ships to be commissioned to be built for the US Navy. This bill was the Naval Act of 1794. The ships commissioned that made it to completion were in order of launch the USS United States, USS Constellation, USS Constitution.  Of these USS United States was sunk during the civil war. The USS Constellation you may still and I highly recommend you do visit in Baltimore. The USS Constitution still belongs to the US Navy and may be visited in Boston for great tours as well.
USS United States

USS Constitution

John Kennedy
On August 2, 1943 Kennedy was serving in the US Navy as a lieutenant junior grade aboard the patrol torpedo boat 109(PT-109) when it was sunk by the Japanese. He then led his men to swim first to one abandoned island and then to a second one where they lived for six days off of coconuts.
President Kennedy in his younger days had been a sailor of star class boats. Of all our presidents he is probably the best sailor. As an adult he had two sailboats. The Manitou a 62 foot racing yacht  sometimes called the floating white house and the 26 ft Victura which was given to him for his 15th birthday by his father and remained his favorite boat throughout his life. 
JFK aboard the Manitou
For a nice video of JFK sailing his Victura go here. He was president so we can forgive him his bad sail trim around 1:20 and 4:55.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chocolate Popcorn

For those of you who are single this valentines day like I am you, you probably want some easy to munch chocolate treat but nothing too hard to make or too high in calories or designed for multiple people. The answer is Chocolate Popcorn.
You need
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
2oz chocolate
salt to taste
Mix ins to taste I frequently use things like craisins, almonds, caramel bits, mini marshmallows, ect

popped with mix ins
Put the 1/4 cup popcorn kernels into your hot air popcorn popper and pop them. While that is popping melt the 2oz of chocolate in a double boiler, metal bowl over pan of water, or microwave until just melted. Add the mix ins to the popped popcorn ( I used craisins and almonds in this example). Then drizzle the popcorn with the chocolate while stirring constantly. Make sure to pull from the way bottom to the top not just around and around. Keep stirring until fully coated and the chocolate has begun to set again. Add a shake or two of salt if desired. Somehow all popcorn needs a slight bit of salt to my taste.
Chocolate coated popcorn with almonds and craisins

Enjoy and Happy Valentines Day!

HMS Bounty Hearings streaming live

For those of you who are both interested in the sinking of the HMS Bounty and interested in what goes on at a Coast Guard Hearing you can watch the whole thing live here.

Quick Spicy Brussel Sprouts

I like Brussel Sprouts. Not the mushy ones mom used to make as kids where they were basically boiled to death and then smothered in butter sauce. But the sauteed type with a little spice. They are also very fast to make.
All you need is
1/2 lb Brussel Sprouts
1 tablespoon Sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sesame seeds ( optional but tasty)
Sriracha to taste
This is an easy ingredient list.
Now how to:
1.Heat up your cast iron skillet on medium high. You do have a cast iron skillet right they are indispensable in the kitchen, if not get one.
2.While the skillet is heating up cut the brussel sprouts in half top to bottom so they look like the ones in the picture. This  is the hardest part of the recipe.
3. Put the sesame oil in the skillet and spread around. Then put the brussel sprouts in cut side down. ( this is important if they are cut side up they will not trap the steam and cook as fast nor will they be as yummy caramelized)
cut side down matters! Also do not crowd the pan no more then 1 deep
sriracha water mix
4. Let brown for a minute or two. While this is happening go get a shot glass or other small container. You want 1 squirt about 1 teaspoon but more if you like hot and less if you do not like heat of Sriracha and mix that with 1 oz water.
5. Pour the water Sriracha mix over the brussel sprouts and dust with sesame seeds. Then put a lid over the pan. Cook for an additional 2 minutes with lid on.

6. Remove lid, serve brussle sprouts. Makes 2 -1 cup ish servings.
mmm brussel sprouts.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

ISAF Race Rules of Sailing 2013 The Changes

ISAF Race Rules of Sailing are the rules that govern the sport and almost all racing. Every few years the make the changes and release them in a new book of sailing regulations. This recent version is for 2013-2016 so these are the rules for the next three years.
Changes from the 2012 season are:
Part 1 Section 6: Environmental Responsibility-
                 Basically do not throw your trash in the water on the way to or during or way back from a race. Seriously, this should not be something even under question. Who does this? We sail in part because we love the water lets respect it and put the trash in a dumpster back at the marina.

Rule 20 Hailing Room to Tack section 20.3 Passing on the hail to additional boats
If Almonds are boats and the pretzel is an obstruction
              Lets say three boats are all on same course and Boat A hails for room to tack to boat B. It used to be that unless Boat B needed to tack for her own benefit she could not hail Boat C for room to tack. Now if Boat B needs room to tack in order to give room to Boat A while avoiding boat C she can now hail to Boat C for room to tack.

Surfing in section 42.3
Technically you used to only be able to manipulate the sails once per wind generated wave to surf. Now waves that are not at the same direction as the wind get that same treatment you can change sails once per wave to surf regardless of type of wave. This is a minor change and one that most people will not be aware changed.

Informing the Protestee section 61.1
RC can now inform a boat that they are being protested by RC after the race instead of as soon as reasonably possible. I'm not sure I like this rule as it eliminates the ability for the boat to do a turn to eliminate the protest. But let us see how it plays out in real life.

Protests in section 63
   If a judge sees the incident in question he or she must say so. Seems obvious, but this should make the protest room more fair. Removal of Bonus point system 90.3
There is no longer the bonus point system only low point system for scoring unless race rules state otherwise which is fine as the Chesapeake bay pretty much only uses low point.

A11 Scoring abbreviations
Now DPI= Discretionary penalty imposed  
This is fine although DPI makes me think of old printers dots per inch.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Who does not love the taste of chocolate and bananas together? This recipe is a rif off of the one my great aunt always followed from the 1967 printing of the joy of cooking for quick banana bread. In more modern palate I've added whole wheat flour, chocolate chips, and removed the lemon zest.

Last week bananas were on sale for 39 cents a pound and I bought too many. You will need 3 or 4 overripe bananas.

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 or 4 ripe bananas
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1.Preheat oven to 350.
2.In mixer add both types of flour, and baking powder. Mix these together well or if prefer sift together these three.
3. All all the remaining ingredients except the chocolate chips. Mix until bananas well broken up and rest is mixed.
4. Add chocolate chips and mix briefly to distribute.
5. Transfer to a bread pan that you have sprayed down with Pam for baking(or have greased and floured). Smooth the top. Then my Great Aunt used to say that it would work better if you draw a banana on top so draw a banana.

See the banana swirl on top!
6. Put in 350 degree oven for 1 hour to bake. If you want to do this in mini loaf pans it will make 3 small mini loaves but will be done cooking in only 45 minutes.
Now put on some Jimmy Buffet Music as your house will now smell like bread and tropics for the next hour or more. 

7. Allow bread to cool. ( This is a hard part ) Slice and enjoy!

Chocolate Oranges

I'm having a few friends over this evening for a craft night. We will be having tea coffee and appetizers. One thing I have found is that coffee and tea both are better with a little sweet on the side. A perfect sweet for both espresso and tea is chocolate covered orange slices. They are easy to make similar to chocolate strawberries.
Peel an orange or two and separate into segments. You want segments that are unbroken and the rind and pith removed.
Melt the chocolate in the double boiler. Grab one segment at a time and dip into the chocolate and then place on a piece of wax paper to solidify.
Once the chocolate has solidified store in an air tight container for up to 3 days.
Or better yet serve with a cup of espresso or earl gray tea.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Clam Chowder and Lobster Bisque because the Ravens won

I live in Baltimore Ravens territory and most of my family lives in New England Patriots territory. We had a bet over which team would win the Championship and got to the Superbowl. Ravens won!! So I received in the mail the other day a package containing Lobster Bisque and Clam Chowder from Cape Cod Stuffed Quahog Company
Ravens victory has never tasted so delicious.
Both soups came frozen. The lobster bisque all you do is put the frozen bisque in a small saucepan and heat on low  or medium low until nice and warm. You know a bisque is fantastic when I find myself using a spatula to scrape down the side of the pan and get the last half a spoonful like you do with cookie dough.
The clam chowder you simply put as much milk(they say to use whole milk but I used 2% and it was creamy and delicious) in the pan as you do frozen clam chowder stock. Also heat on low or medium low until warm and tasty. Add a grind of fresh ground pepper and think of Massachusetts.
So so good. Glad the Patriots lost to the Ravens but also very glad to find this excellent company with the amazingly good soup.It is a total taste of new england down here in the mid atlantic.

Go Ravens!!

Disclaimer: Cape Cod Stuffed Quahog company has no idea who I am. I just loved the bisque and really liked the clam chowder. I have one container left of each and plan on ordering more soon.